Air reconnaissance, 3 days prior to the Rock’s
assault, indicated that the entire island was heavily defended –
found 18 coastal defense gun positions, 17 of which appeared to
be occupied, noted myriad caves and preparations around MALINTA
HILL, SAN JOSE, and SOUTH DOCK, pinpointed 14 light and medium
anti-aircraft installations, all in use, and commented on the
excellent, all weather road net that covers the island.
So much of these observations as applic to the
operation of BLT #3 is noted in the subsequent map-sketch.
Considering the appearance of this same terrain after the
completion of preparatory aerial bombing and naval gunfire, it
is difficult to imagine such thorough identification of objects
on the ground possible.
REPORTED JAP INSTALLATIONS
The plan for "L" company and "K" company to land
in the initial wave, each with 2 platoons abreast. "L" company
was charged with the seizure and securing of the southern half
of MALINTA HILL and the tunnel entrances ranging around that
portion. "K" was given the northern half of the hill and its
"I" company, coming ashore 8 minutes after "L"
and "K", will establish the 1BN and detach one platoon to
destroy machine guns which were known to be present on the west
or left flank of the beach.
"H" company was to be prepared to support the
attack with its heavy machine guns and mortars on order and as
directed by the commanding officer.
"A" company, initially in tactical reserve, would
furnish one platoon per LCT for unloading bulk cargo, and stand
ready to attack on order.
The anti-tank platoon of the THIRD battalion
would land on the east half of the beach, the 3d platoon from
regimental Anti-Tank Company on the west. Initially, this letter
platoon would assist in the distraction of the hostile
machine-gun positions on their flank. Both platoons would fire
on targets of opportunity.
Demolition squads for the rifle companies and
ammunition resupply details were to come from the battalion A&P
platoon. All mines on the beach were to be at first marked and
later removed by the detachment from Anti-Tank Company’s Mine
Platoon. Additional assistance for the rifle companies in
matters of demolition, removal of obstacles on the beach, road
repair, and the destruction of fortified positions would be
provided by the 3d Platoon, C Company, 3d Engineers. Detachments
from 603d Tank company and 34th Regimental Cannon company would
land and stand by to engage targets of opportunity.
Each man was ordered to carry ashore his own
medical aid kit and 30 days supply of atabrine, and two full
canteens of water. One unit of fire was to go ashore
individually and/or mobile loaded. One 1/3 K and a 2/3 D ration
would be carried, for use ashore on D-plus-one and D-plus-two.
Each company in the battalion command net SCR
300, Channel 37 – as soon as practicably possible after landing
would report in and thereafter maintain continuous watch until
further instructed from BLT headquarters. Initial communication
with elements of the 503rd Parachute Regiment would be
established by the 592 JASCO detachment. This detachment would
maintain a station in the command not until wire communication
could be installed.
Nineteen Jeeps, 3
three-quarter ton trucks, 1 ton-and-a-half, 7 two-and-a-half ton
GMC’s, 5 ambulances, 3 D-6 dozers, 3 M-7 SPM’s, 6 37mm anti-tank
guns, 2 medium tanks, 3 two-hundred-fifty-gallon water trailers,
the supplies and equipment mentioned in previous paragraphs, and
the individual arms and equipment and intestinal fortitude of
1199 officers and men – these were the elements of BLT #3 – the
equipment and the men and to whom their commanding officer said
…"There’s no place to go, once you’re there, but forward. We
simply take the hill at all costs and stay there until we’ve
killed all the Japs or the Japs have killed all of us" ...
... the men who knew what they were going into –
and went – and came back victorious.
* * *